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Thief (Special Director's Edition)

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Product Details

  • Actors: James Caan, Tuesday Weld, Willie Nelson, James Belushi, Robert Prosky
  • Directors: Michael Mann
  • Writers: Michael Mann, Frank Hohimer
  • Producers: Michael Mann, Jerry Bruckheimer, Richard Brams, Ronnie Caan
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, Letterboxed, NTSC, Special Edition, Widescreen
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish, French
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: R (Restricted)
  • Studio: 20th Century Fox
  • DVD Release Date: July 1, 1998
  • Run Time: 122 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (185 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: 0792838947
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #30,891 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Thief (Special Director's Edition)" on IMDb

Special Features

  • Deleted scenes
  • Exhilerating Footage not shown in theatres
  • 8-Page Collectible Booklet

Editorial Reviews

Product Description

James Caan is at his very best as a tough, wisecracking professional thief trapped between Chicago organized crime families and corrupt police in this gripping drum-tight tale (Los Angeles).Michael Mann, who directed Last of the Mohicans and Manhunter and produced Miami Vice and Crime Story, wrote and directed this taut, visually dazzling heist -drama called 'the bestof that breed since The Asphalt Jungle by New West. Filmed on rain-slicked Chicagostreets, Thief captures the chilling suspense and human drama of professional crime with incredibly'realistic details...heist technology straight out of Star Wars and dialog with 'the gutter pungency of a wood-alcohol cocktail (Rolling Stone). Co-starring country superstar Willie Nelson and James Belushi ('saturday Night Live ), 'thief envelops you in its tough, doom-laden grip and never lets go (Newsweek).


Thief's dark noir spaces are tinged with the neon palette that has become the trademark of director Michael Mann (Miami Vice, Heat). This was his first theatrical film, and all the elements that characterize his later style (and this is a very stylistic film) are dominant. Equal parts grit and glamour, the story is simple. Frank (James Caan) is a lone-wolf jewel thief who was, in his words, brought up "by the state." In prison he was apprenticed to a master thief, played by Willie Nelson. When Frank's successful career comes to the attention of an avuncular syndicate boss (Robert Prosky), Frank is offered (and accepts against his better judgment) a deal that should allow him to retire and enjoy the family life he covets. But the deal sours, and Frank is left to decide what his nature truly is, lone wolf or family man. Thief melds its jazzy visual style with heightened realism: the jewel thief's tools of the trade are authentic, up to the 8,000 degree thermal lance used to cut through a nearly impregnable safe. Some of the bit parts are played by real-life, highly successful jewel thieves, who acted as consultants. And their presence informs the superb dialogue, as every word rings true. In one long, engrossing scene, James Caan gradually persuades the woman he wants to start a family with (Tuesday Weld in one of her most affecting performances) that they should be together. The film was photographed beautifully by Donald Thorin and further emboldened by the driving rhythms of Tangerine Dream. The DVD contains a very funny commentary track by the director and James Caan. --Jim Gay

Customer Reviews

Like some people say the movie starts off slow.
Adrian D. Addison
James Caan's performance is also the best of his long career.
L. M. Meade
This is one of the best action movies ever made.
Keith L. Hull

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

65 of 70 people found the following review helpful By P. Ferrigno on December 6, 2000
Format: DVD
Michael Mann's dark and intriguing 1981 crime film "Thief",....adapted from the Frank Hohimer novel "The Home Invaders" is finally out on DVD and packed with interesting features including insightful commentary by director Michael Mann and star James Caan.
Additionally, there are deleted scenes, theatrical trailer and an 8 page booklet too....excellent additions to accompany the DVD release of this noir cult film. The DVD color transfer is excellent...precisely capturing the neon lit and rain swept night world of crime...and Tangerine Dreams haunting soundtrack is brilliant in Dolby sound. Mann's movie depicts the life of ex-convict turned professional thief, Frank (James Caan) who maintains an honest veneer during the day as a car dealership manager, but his nights are spent with partner Barry (James Belushi) carrying out elaborate jewel robberies. Frank falls in with criminal mastermind, Leo (Robert Prosky in a chilling performance) who is seemingly a guardian angel...but the relationship quickly sours and Franks world crumbles and then ignites in violence and death.
Mann's highly effective use of light and color give an eerie ambience to this film...and the first rate support cast including Tuesday Weld and Willie Nelson as the ailing master safe cracker, Okla....give "Thief" a polished finish. Director Michael Mann continued his motif of criminal thrillers in later years with TV shows like Miami Vice & Crime Story...and films like Manhunter & Heat.
A very worthy addition to your DVD collection...fans of intense, intelligent crime saga's will definitely enjoy !!
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33 of 35 people found the following review helpful By Douglas R. Williams on January 21, 1999
Format: DVD
James Caan plays a hardcore master thief who's spent almost his entire adult life behind bars. When he makes a Faustian bargain with a mobster (Robert Prosky) in order to get out of the life, everything he's worked for tumbles down around him. This is a MAGNIFICENT movie, full of power, irony, and ferocious action! I think it's Caan's greatest role, and that's saying A LOT! He brings incredible intensity to his role as a man who, in order to save himself, must destroy everything he loves. Not only is this a fabulous movie, it's my favorite DVD. The DVD/widescreen format truly does justice to Director Mann (MIAMI VICE, MANHUNTER, HEAT)'s quirky, ultra-slick style. Also, the commentary by Mann and Caan is EXACTLY what a DVD commentary track should be: two great artists commenting on the film at the same time, playing off of each other and really adding a whole new dimension to the film (for instance, did you know that the "technical advisors" for the film were a "crew" of jewltheives, and that Caan was breaking into REAL safes with REAL burglary tools?). If you loved HEAT, you HAVE TO see this movie! In fact, this is almost a companion piece to HEAT, because Caan's character is sort of an earlier version of DeNiro's character. If you are a fan of films like RESERVOIR DOGS, HEAT, PULP FICTION, and THE GETAWAY, this is a MUST-SEE! This is truly a modern classic!
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33 of 37 people found the following review helpful By Robert Morris HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on September 17, 2003
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
I first saw this film soon after it was released, having no idea what to expect, except that it was filmed in my home town (Chicago) and that it starred James Caan whose work I had admired so much in The Godfather. I neither knew nor cared who directed it (Michael Mann) and had no idea which group provided the musical soundtrack (Tangerine Dream). Wow! I enjoyed Thief so much I returned to see it again the next evening, dragging along some friends who knew even less about it than I did only 24 hours before. In my opinion, this is Caan's finest performance as Frank, a middle-aged jewel thief who is obviously determined to make a long-cherished dream come true: Retire from his criminal life, marry, start a family, and live happily ever after. He carries a photo collage in his wallet as a daily reminder of the "life" he one day hopes to have. He shares it only with Jessie (Tuesday Weld) because she is the only person with whom he wants to share that life. Meanwhile, Frank has met with Leo (Robert Prosky) who seems to take a paternal interest in Frank but only to gain his trust so that Frank will agree to an assignment for the mob. Of course, Leo has no intention of allowing him to retire. Once involved with the mob, Frank will have no way out except death. After he and Jessie marry and move into a lovely home, they are frustrated in their attempts to adopt a child so Leo provides one ("Boy or girl? Whatever you want.") and much of Frank's dream has come true. One last lucrative theft and....

Under Mann's direction, all of the performances are outstanding. I was especially interested in the care with which the major theft is planned and then executed.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Doug Anderson VINE VOICE on August 19, 2006
Format: DVD
The pulsing synth-rock of Tangerine Dream really sets the tone for this ultra-stylish and sleek noir heist gone bad film. The film is like a well oiled machine and when you hear the synthesizers roar into action you know that something extremely bad is going down. This synthesizer noir film has a menace that never lets up.

Michael Mann isn't much for giving his criminals and cops bios or personalities or much else; his characters don't even have last names, they are just hunters or the hunted. James Caan plays "Frank". Frank's a car dealer by day and jewel thief by night and as an ex con who has spent 11 of his 35 years in prison Frank knows that he doesn't have a second to lose and that the odds and the fates are against him. Nevertheless he's trying to defy his loner's fate by assembling a family (that includes a recently met waitress played by Tuesday Weld and an adopted child) but he seems to know from the start that plans do not have a way of working out. So far his life has been like a big blank that he's trying to fill in but he just can't seem to beat those odds and those fates that have somehow decided ahead of time that he is predestined to fail are breathing down his neck. Frank doesn't have a real family. He went straight from orphanage to prison house. And everywhere Frank has been he's been mistreated. Still he keeps fighting back. In prison he was beaten within inches of his life by a gang of predators attempting to rape him but Franks the kind of guy who fought back and left his assailants in worse shape than they left him. The recently released from prison Frank is a guy that you don't want to cross. Still each time Frank pulls off a heist someone screws him over.
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